Gophers greats loyal to end

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 18, 2011 - 6:12 AM

Murray Warmath's players drew on almost 60 years of memories of a man they considered a surrogate dad.

They've been getting together on Thursdays for years. They used to have lunch at Bob McNamara's Sports Bar, which was closed to make way for condos. Now they meet at Legends, a bunch of folks with University of Minnesota ties.

On this day, McNamara was there with his brother Pinky, former Gophers football player and assistant coach Dick Larson, former Gophers trainer Jim Marshall and former men's basketball coach Jim Dutcher, among others.

At one point, Bob McNamara stood up and clanged his glass for attention. Thursday's meeting had two purposes, to wish Pinky a happy birthday and to mourn the passing of Murray Warmath. There was a moment of silence, then memories.

That's the way it was all over the country for former players of Warmath, who died Wednesday evening in Bloomington at the age of 98. Bobby Bell, down in Arizona, was getting ready to fly to Florida to see his 1960 teammate Judge Dickson.

Jim Carter, also down south, was getting ready to come home in time for Monday's service. After their own moments of silence, they talked about their former coach.

"He was like a father to me," said Bell, one of many All-Americas that Warmath coached and one of the many black players Warmath recruited long before most other schools were willing. "For him to give me an opportunity was the best thing that ever happened to me. ... It's like I lost a surrogate father. I did. He'd go to bat for you, I'd do anything for him. This is a tough thing."

Carter said Warmath's death is "a big loss for me."

Bob McNamara was Warmath's first captain at Minnesota, in 1954. His lasting memory is how Warmath kept in touch with his former players and how close those players remained.

"He kept us together for 60 years," he said. "The word loyalty fits Murray. He always respected the university, always sold the university. That's why his players respected him."

Ezell Jones, John Williams, Bob Stein and Jim Carter were teammates on the 1967 team that won a share of the Gophers' last Big Ten Conference championship. Stein called Warmath a civil-rights leader without ever intending to be.

"He treated people the way you would treat him," Stein said.

Jones, a black man recruited out of Memphis, graduated from the U and stayed in the Twin Cities.

"Murray meant a lot to me, OK? Murray made a difference in this country in the lives of a lot of young black men," he said. "He was a promise-keeper for me and a lot of other young men who came along at the same time."

Williams left Minnesota and played in the NFL for 12 seasons, winning a Super Bowl ring. After retiring, he returned to Minnesota and now has a Minneapolis dental practice.

"He was personable, yet always stern," Williams said. "He was a strong man."

Peter Franzen, a family friend who often helped Warmath get to local events and games, recalled being at a Vikings practice last fall. The two were watching from one end zone when Warmath pointed out a rookie guard. He had a tell, Warmath said. He lined up with his hand flat on the ground for a running play, in a fist for a passing play.

"We were 60 yards away," Franzen said. "I couldn't even see his hand."

Franzen was with Warmath on Wednesday. Warmath's son Murray and family friend Sally Stadum were en route to the Twin Cities from San Diego and Portland, Ore., respectively. Franzen, sitting by Warmath's bed, kept whispering in his ear. They're coming, he said. They'll be here soon.

Both arrived at about the same time and were able to spend some time with Warmath before he passed.

"I think he told death to sit down and wait his turn," Franzen said.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Texas - N. Martinez 2:35 PM
Oakland - S. Gray
Boston - B. Workman 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - G. Cole
Toronto - R. Dickey 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - S. Greene
Washington - G. Gonzalez 6:10 PM
Miami - B. Hand
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - T. Wada
Cleveland - D. Salazar 7:10 PM
Houston - S. Feldman
Milwaukee - K. Lohse 7:15 PM
St. Louis - S. Miller
Arizona - V. Nuno 7:40 PM
Colorado - Y. Flande
Philadelphia - K. Kendrick 8:10 PM
San Diego - R. Erlin
Seattle - F. Hernandez 9:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
Tampa Bay 7:25 PM
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters


Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA




question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question